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Lugosi’s ‘Dracula’ and ‘Living Dead’ Get a Jump on Halloween

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two months before Halloween, Universal and Anchor Bay are getting in a “boo” mood by releasing several classic horror films on video on Tuesday.

The piece de resistance is Universal’s 1931 vampire thriller “Dracula” ($15), starring Bela Lugosi as the infamous count from Transylvania who never drinks wine and has a strong aversion to garlic and crosses.

What sets this tape apart from Universal’s previous releases of “Dracula” is that it features an original score composed by the noted Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet.

This music was commissioned by Universal Family and Home Entertainment Productions. In commenting on writing the score, Glass said in an interview: “The film is considered a classic. I felt the score needed to evoke the feeling of the world of the 19th century. For that reason, I decided a string quartet would be the most evocative and effective. I wanted to stay away from the obvious effects associated with horror films.”

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Originally, “Dracula” used excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” over the title sequence. The remainder of the film had no underscoring because, during talkies’ infancy, sound technology was limited. Director Tod Browning relied on Lugosi’s strong and distinctive Hungarian accent to give the movie its unique “sound.”

Glass’ score is heard throughout the movie. The result is that “Dracula” plays differently now. The action moves faster and the movie seems less creaky--and definitely scarier.

Glass and the Kronos Quartet will perform “Dracula: The Music and Film” live Oct. 30 and 31 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

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Anchor Bay is offering a 30th anniversary edition of George Romero’s flesh-eating zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead” ($15). The video has been remastered and reedited; Anchor Bay claims it is the best visual and audio version made available.

The video also includes 15 minutes of new scenes produced and shot in the Pittsburgh area--where the thriller was shot--by three of the film’s original creators: John Russo, Russ Streiner and Bill Hinzman.

Also featured is a new musical score by Scott Vladimir Licina of the Dark Theater and a scene from Hinzman’s feature “Flesh Eater.”

Also new from Anchor Bay is the fully restored version of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher classic “Halloween” ($15), which is available in full frame and wide-screen versions. The movie was restored under the supervision of LucasFilm’s THX Digital Mastering Services.

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A new documentary, “Halloween Unmasked 2000,” includes interviews with Carpenter, executive producer Irwin Yablans, cinematographer Dean Cundey, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace, producer Debra Hill and features Jamie Lee Curtis and Brian Andrew, who was the first actor to play the masked killer, Michael Myers. Also included are theatrical trailers and TV and radio spots.


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